Throughout the world there are five major plastic convergences - made possible due to our consumerist lifestyles and lack of care for surrounding environments, then furthered by ocean conditions - the largest of which is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). Researchers have discovered the GPGP - located halfway between Hawaii and California - is the unfortunate home to approximately 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. That equates to approximately 250 pieces of plastic for every person in the world...and that is just one of the five! To use conventional methods to clean up these patches such as nets and vessels, it would cost billions of dollars and take thousands of years to complete successfully. Ocean Cleanup are developing a ground-breaking and innovative solution to right this global wrong and we are here to shed some light on it for you.
The Ocean Cleanup are a non-profit organisation founded by Boyan Slat, a Dutch inventor, in 2013. The concept of the design is to use the environment around it to operate, therefore making it a more durable and cost-effective solution. A long float sits on the top of the water, shepherding the floating debris, whilst the long skirt under the water captures the plastic that has broken down in the sun and started to sink. The sea anchor then slows the speed of the mechanism and leads the plastic to the retention system.
The first mission by Ocean Cleanup was launched in San Francisco in 2018. Many aspects of the design and concept were proven and successful, however the retention system did not seem to be operating as effectively as hoped. Since 2018 Ocean Cleanup have developed numerous prototypes using their previous studies findings.
System 002 is their next launch mission after spending the last few years in redevelopment stages.
Ocean Cleanup have deduced that if they are able to stop the millions of tonnes of rubbish entering the ocean via the world's rivers, it will halt approximately 80% of plastic pollution from entering the sea. Their solution to this catastrophe is The Interceptor. Another forward-thinking invention that only has a positive impact on the environment it operates in. A solar powered, catamaran styled barge with a large conveyor belt up the centre, uses the rivers currents to remove the debris from the water. Once it is full it notifies local operators who then come to empty and recycle the rubbish pulled from the river. Interceptors are already deployed in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic and have seen extremely positive results. The vessels can extract 50,000kg of rubbish on a daily basis, and if the conditions are favourable it can be up to double that amount.
Ocean Cleanup are taking enormous strides in the fight against the polluting of our oceans and rivers, but we mustn’t leave it completely up to them. We must be vigilant daily; don’t litter, take your keep cup when grabbing a coffee, purchase biodegradable alternatives. There is so much we can do to help the efforts of these bright minded people around the world. If you want to reduce your waste or are looking for tips for a more sustainable lifestyle, check our story out every Saturday for our Sustainability Saturday eco tips. If you want to learn more about the Ocean Cleanup efforts, check out their website here